Arts & Culture: World traveler and award-winning photographer Aaron Chang is getting ready to open his first gallery in Solana Beach, California. As part of his dedication to the environment and saving the world's oceans, the nature-loving photographer uses recycled materials to print his digital images on, further enhancing the viewer's experience. The lifelong surfer took time out to talk with JustLuxe about his unique large-format work, as well as his artistic point of view and concern for the environment.
JL: How did you become interested in photography?
Aaron Chang: As a teenager surfing in Hawaii, I wanted to share the beautiful things I was seeing in the ocean while surfing.
JL: How does surfing relate to photography for you?
Aaron Chang: As a senior photographer for Surfing magazine, it was the main focus of my work for many years. Much of what I did for the magazine involved international travel. My job was to create images that inspired people.
JL: Can you describe your upcoming exhibit?
Aaron Chang: The collection on display for our opening will consist of large-scale photographic prints framed in a rich organic wood. We're also receiving a huge response to our recycled metal pieces where the photos are printed onto recycled scrap aluminum. The result is stunning!
JL: What is especially unique about your photos?
Aaron Chang: The perspective comes from the understanding of the core of surfing and action sports. The execution involves pushing the parameters of what's possible in the digital medium. The result is fresh and inspirational.
JL: How does the material that the photo is printed on change the image?
Aaron Chang: The image takes on the characteristics of the medium. Pieces printed onto glass are shiny, yet transparent. Printed wood takes on an earthy feeling. When using reflective metal, the viewer becomes actually visible in the piece itself.
JL: What are your favorite materials to print on?
Aaron Chang: Recycled metal. I love the interaction between the art and the viewer.
JL: How does using eco-friendly materials help make an impact on the work?
Aaron Chang: It sends the message that we're all responsible for our finite resources.
JL: How does the large size help enhance the viewer's experience of the photo?
Aaron Chang: They become transported into the image by the sheer size and detail of the photo. For instance, I recently photographed a sun stream filtering through the jungle of Kauai. At 6' high, the viewer feels he can actually walk into the light of this surreal forest.
JL: Do you have any favorite surfing spots?
Aaron Chang: Del Mar, California, the Mentawai islands off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia and Jeffrey's Bay in South Africa.
JL: Is there anything else you'd like to share, such as your charity work?
Aaron Chang: The health of our ocean is in serious danger. We will be hosting fundraising events with the Surfrider Foundation this year to raise awareness and funding for their cause.
Chang's work has graced over 100 magazine covers worldwide and has been featured in a variety of publications including fashion, rock and roll, sports and travel. This is an exciting time for Aaron Chang, with his large format photo debut at the W in San Diego, as well as the official opening of the Aaron Chang Gallery taking place this month; he is also working on his first book.
Part of the proceeds from the gallery opening will be donated to the Surfrider Foundation, which seeks to promote awareness about the world's beaches and oceans.
To learn more about Aaron Chang's New Gallery visit www.aaronchanggallery.com
For LxM Carly Zinderman